The presidential Twitter account, 1:37 p.m. today: “New movie about our wonderful moon landing will not show the American flag being raised. Not good! Time to plant a boycott flag in Hollywood’s ass!”
And you know what? He’d have a point — even though, let’s face it, this is more a business decision than “political correctness run amok.” You want your movie about one of America’s greatest moments to sell tickets in countries that aren’t crazy about America (cough)? Well, then you’d better go light on the American iconography.
The first step in writing a post like this is deciding whether to describe leading man Ryan Gosling, who supports the decision not to depict the flag-planting, as “Canadian garbage” or “Canadian trash.” A few social-media pals suggested “Canadian refuse” would be more elegant, which is true. So, here’s Canadian refuse Ryan Gosling:
Gosling, who’s Canadian, argued that the first voyage to the moon was a “human achievement” that didn’t just represent an American accomplishment, and that’s how Armstrong viewed it.
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Gosling. “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
Gosling added, “He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s not just to be humble, that’s also true. So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”
Look on the bright side. Better that they omit the flag altogether than let Hollywood re-imagine the scene:
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) August 31, 2018
Was the moon landing a “human achievement” more so than an American achievement? Yes and no. No in the sense that it was famously the result of a hyper-nationalist space race between the world’s two superpowers. Would America have gone to the moon eventually? Sure. Would America have scrambled to get to the moon in 1969 if not for the massive psychological national-greatness payoff in beating the Soviets to the punch? Nah, probably not. If you want to be more meta about the question, would America have ever been in the position, scientifically and economically, to pull off a moon shot if it hadn’t been America? Again, nopers.
But yes, of course it was a “human achievement” as well, one that requires no sense of national pride to appreciate. “One giant leap for mankind,” right? It was the moment Earth could no longer contain human ingenuity; even 50 years on, the spectacle is wondrous. No one would disagree. What’s strange, then, about that as a rationale for omitting the flag-planting from the movie is that it assumes audiences might fail to appreciate the “human achievement” if the moment was depicted as it actually happened. This startling chapter in human advancement, recognized as such universally and universally known to have been accomplished by the United States, would supposedly lose its appeal among moviegoers if it was … faithfully re-created. How the hell does that add up? Tell ’em, Little Marco:
This is total lunacy. And a disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together. The American people paid for that mission,on rockets built by Americans,with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission. https://t.co/eGwBq7hj8C
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 31, 2018
It’d be one thing if producers wanted to falsify the scene by adding American iconography gratuitously, like putting Neil Armstrong in a red-white-and-blue spacesuit. That would be “jingoistic,” in the words of some moron at The Hollywood Reporter fretting about the nationalist implications of a movie like this. But to refuse to show the great happening as it was, because Chinese audiences might get frowny at being reminded that their rival pulled this off? That’s historical revisionism by omission, to make a buck. And of course it’s an insult to American moviegoers, who rightly take pride in one of their country’s greatest achievements. If a foreign audience can’t exult in this singular “human achievement” because of its national pedigree then they never much appreciated it to begin with.
In conclusion, we should own the libs and the Chinese by sending them all to the moon and demanding that they salute the Armstrong flag before they’re allowed to return. Oh, and in case you’re wondering whether this is on Trump’s radar yet — it’s tailor-made for a flag-waving presidential nationalist broadside at America-hating celebrity elites — the answer is almost certainly yes. You know he watches “Fox & Friends” with the same attentiveness as homicide detectives reviewing surveillance video in a murder case. Well, F&F is on it. Soon he will be too.